Comment: ‘HMS Edinburgh deal worth consideration’

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ANYONE got a spare £2 million to buy a second-hand battleship?

That might make the Ministry of Defence sound like a used car dealer, but today the military top brass have really done us a good turn.

OK, the asking price is likely to be way above the £700,000 initially suggested, but buying HMS Edinburgh and turning it into a floating museum could yet be a great idea.

The £2m or so price tag will of course only be the start of the cost. Turning a recently retired warship into a visitor attraction won’t be cheap.

But before we get bogged down in the maths, let’s not lose sight of the potential. There is a lot to get excited about.

The celebrated “Fortress of the Seas” would in many ways perfectly complement the Royal Yacht Britannia in Leith Docks. The twin attractions would showcase two contrasting sides of our proud naval history – the military and the royal. It would surely attract flocks of tourists and create a great educational centre for our kids.

First, though, we need to ascertain exactly how much it will cost to bring the ship “home” and create a top-class attraction. Then we need to work out whether it is really worth it.

Not all the money need come from the public purse. Anything that brings a significant increase in visitors to Leith Docks would be a great boon to Ocean Terminal. Perhaps the shopping centre’s owners could be persuaded to share in the start-up costs, as well as the National Lottery heritage fund, VisitScotland and the Scottish Government.

Of course, even a share of the costs would be a huge deal for the city right now. Half a million pounds would fill in a heck of a lot of potholes.

But the benefits this could bring to the regeneration of Leith must not be overlooked. This chance has got to be worth serious consideration.